How to Do Drain Repairs


Plumbing aids, such as plumbers' snakes, are great for clearing clogs in toilets and drains. Check out this article at HowStuffWorks for helpful tips.
Plumbing aids, such as plumbers' snakes, are great for clearing clogs in toilets and drains. Check out this article at HowStuffWorks for helpful tips.
2009 HowStuffWorks

There are a number of plumbing repairs that require immediate attention. Chief among these is a clogged drain. Everyone knows the inconvenience and mess that accompany a sluggish drain. Even so, many people wait until the drain stops completely before they take corrective action. Sometimes a clog can be cleared with a simpl­e homemade remedy.

If you have a moderately clogged drain, try this homemade drain cleaner: Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar. Be careful. The two ingredients interact with foaming and fumes, so replace the drain cover loosely. Let the concoction set for about three hours before running water.

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If you know the slow drain is from grease, try this treatment: Pour in 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda followed by a teakettle of boiling water. Allow to sit overnight.

If the homemade drain cleaners don't work, try the steps on the following pages.

1: Work on the Overflow Vent

­Cover overflow opening in basin or tub with wet cloth. Most kitchen sinks don't have an overflow vent, but, if you're working on one of two side-by-side basins, plug the other basin's drain opening with wet cloths. In homes that have two bathrooms back to back in adjacent rooms, both may be connected to the same drain. In such cases you must block the other basin at both its drain and overflow vent. Shower facilities seldom have overflow vents; bathtubs do. Cover all of them with wet cloths for plunger to work properly.

2: Use a Plunger

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­Fill clogged basin with enough water to cover head of plunger. Coat lip of plunger with petroleum jelly (this helps create better seal). Slide plunger's cup over drain opening, then rapidly pump plunger up and down. You should feel water move in and out of drain. It is this back-and-forth water pressure that can eventually build up enough force to dislodge whatever is blocking drain. After about a dozen firm strikes, jerk plunger up quickly. Water should rush out. If it doesn't, try same procedure two or three more times before attempting another method.

3: Use Drain Chemicals or a Snake

­If plunger doesn't remove clog, consider using chemical drain opener. For drain that's completely blocked, however, it's best not to use chemicals, as they contain caustic agents that can actually harm some fixtures. Instead, use drain-and-trap auger. To use it, remove popup stopper or strainer from clogged drain and insert auger wire into opening. As you feed flexible wire in, crank handle of device, loosening and then tightening thumbscrew on handle as you advance wire. If wire encounters something, move it back and forth while you turn auger handle. Then continue to turn handle while slowly withdrawing auger.